In an interview with former chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal at the U.K.’s 2019 Hay Festival, the leading lawyer revealed that violent behavior towards women can be a precursor to someone developing extremist views that may lead to terrorist acts, reported The Daily Mail.
Addressing a large audience at the film festival event, Afzal said that radicalizers looking to recruit men often target those with a history of sexual violence. Emphasizing the link between abuse and terror, the lawyer boldly claimed that “if you tackle violence against women and girls you can tackle all the other problems.”
The current adviser to the Welsh government on violence against women went on to suggest that monitoring those guilty of domestic violence or sexual crimes against women could help security services narrow down potential high-risk terror suspects.
“The question I ask is: Why has it not been on the radar of policing, the state or the authorities? Why is this state finding it so difficult to appreciate a misogynistic background of so many of these people?”
Afzal explained that the government does not have the resources to continue tracking the people currently on their security risk list and that by targeting those with certain attitudes towards women, the government will have a better chance of tracking down the real potential suspects.
“There are something like 25,000 people who are on the radar of the security services and police in this country. We don’t have the resources any more. You have no idea what it takes to follow one person. But if we look for the signs, and one of them is their attitudes towards women… we will be in a much better place.”
To illustrate his point, the lawyer drew on past terrorist attacks that had taken place in the United Kingdom, noting that the Westminster Bridge, Manchester Arena, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park attacks were all carried out by men with a history of violence towards women.
Khalid Masood, who carried out the 2017 Westminster Bridge attack, had a long history of alleged domestic abuse. His first wife supposedly left him for domestic abuse reasons while his second wife reportedly described him as “controlling and angry.”
While in prison in 2000 for attacking a man with a knife, Masood converted to Islam. He was also sentenced years later for stabbing another man.
In the same grain, Mohammed Lahouiaej-Bouhel, who carried out the Nice, France, attack in 2016, also had a similar background to Masood’s, according to Forbes. He reportedly exhibited violent tendencies towards his family and spent time in prison, where he also could have been exposed to radicalism.